'Inside Out' Is An Unprecedented Feminist Success

by Jennifer Still

Pixar has been at the top of the animation game for a while now, but they may just have outdone themselves with their latest release. Inside Out is a definite must-see movie this summer, thanks to its fantastic message for adolescents, and pre-teen girls in particular. Plus, it's just a great film in general, and it's clear I'm not the only one that thinks so, because Inside Out soared to over $90 million in sales at North American box offices this weekend. It's the best ever opening for a Pixar film outside of Toy Story 3, making these numbers even more impressive, considering Inside Out is a standalone film with no franchise to pump up its appeal.

If you're unfamiliar with the storyline, Inside Out follows 11-year-old Riley as she and her family move across the country. Such a transition would be difficult for any child, and Riley — being a pre-teen girl full of complicated emotions — makes the change even more tumultuous. Riley is also ruled by five distinct emotions: Fear, Joy, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness, and those emotions both help and hinder her as she navigates her new life and the experience of growing up within it.

In addition to telling a wonderful story, Inside Out is a female-driven film featuring the voices of some amazingly talented ladies including Amy Poehler (Joy), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Kaitlyn Dias (Riley), and Diane Lane (Mom). Having so many wonderful women on board to relay the story of what it's like to be a young girl in a very complicated world just makes Inside Out that much more appealing, not to mention incredibly important in Hollywood, which can be lacking when it comes to representing the female experience with such genuine empathy and understanding.

Perhaps the most impressive and heartening things about Inside Out is how honestly it deals with some of the darker aspects of our emotions. The movie depicts issues like anxiety and depression in ways that are true and not watered down for a younger audience, which is refreshing, to say the least. It attempts to depict the complexity of our emotions as girls and women, especially during puberty, and encourages acceptance and empathy with Riley as she works her way through through them and comes out the other side changed, but still in one piece. How many other movies have you seen that accomplish that, and so effortlessly?

I have faith that the movie will continue to dominate at the box office and win over audiences everywhere — after all, it has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is nearly unheard of, so clearly they got something right. Whatever the numbers say, however, one thing is for sure: Inside Out is a triumph for girls everywhere, and I know I'm not the only one who's grateful it was made.

Images: Walt Disney Studios (2)